Two rescue naked man from lake in Orland Park
BY STEVE METSCH email@example.com May 29, 2012 3:36PM
A goup of teenagers pull an unconscious man from the water after he screamed for help saying he was drowning in Lake Sedgewick in Orland Park, Illinois, Tuesday, May 29, 2012. | Joseph P. Meier~Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 3, 2012 12:36PM
One went to Centennial Park Tuesday hoping for a day at the water park; the other was there having a picnic with friends to celebrate their last day as juniors at Sandburg High School.
Together, Albert Kulicz and MacKenzie Smith ended up fulfilling a much higher calling — saving a man’s life.
“If they weren’t there, who knows what the outcome would have been,” Orland Park Police Cmdr. John Keating said.
Authorities said the two pulled a 33-year-old Tinley Park man from Lake Sedgewick — he was naked and holding a rosary. The man, whom police are not identifying, was taken to Palos Community Hospital for treatment and was expected to survive, authorities said.
The man was floundering about 100 feet offshore at about 12:45 p.m. when he cried for help.
Kulicz and Smith, who were in separate groups near the lake’s gazebo, heard the man shouting for help. It took them and friends about five minutes to run to the other side of the lake, where Smith and Kulicz jumped in to save him.
The water was deep that far from shore, said the 21-year-old Kulicz, who stands 6-foot-2 and could not touch bottom.
“I had no second thoughts,” Kulicz, of Bridgeview said. “I’m a decent swimmer, but he had his all his weight on me and kept saying, ‘Forgive me, forgive me,’ He was almost drowning me. He said he couldn’t swim, and was holding on to me for dear life.”
He and Smith managed to get the man to float on his back and brought him ashore, Kulicz said.
“He’s going to survive. They did a phenomenal job,” Keating said. “I’m not an expert in water rescue, but it’s our belief they definitely saved this individual’s life.”
Smith, 16, from Orland Park, said she did not hesitate jumping in to save the man: “I wasn’t scared. I knew we had to do something.”
The man, who was “fairly tall and kind of heavy,” lost consciousness as they brought him in. When they got the man to shore, they laid him on the ground with Kulicz’s shirt and flip-flops beneath his head until police arrived.
One of Smith’s friends, Andrea Dunn, had called 911 when they heard the man yelling for help. Smith, Dunn and two other friends, Taylor Calzaretta and Meg Carmody, were at the lake to enjoy a picnic of cookies, chips and pop as they celebrated their last days as juniors at Sandburg High School.
Kulicz was enjoying the pleasant weather with his girlfriend, Kate Lesniak, of Chicago Heights. They had gone there hoping to use the water park, but it wasn’t open when they arrived.
“I was just going for a walk with my girlfriend. We sat on the rocks for a bit and then heard a guy yelling for help. I saw his head bobbing up and down. We yelled at him, but didn’t hear a response,” Kulicz said.
Kulicz, who recently graduated from Bradley University, soon will begin work as an engineer for Caterpillar Inc. in Peoria. He and Smith shrugged off suggestions that they were heroes.
It’s unclear why the man was in the lake in the first place. He may have just decided to go for as swim on a warm day, Keating said.
“We have no information of any type that this was a suicide attempt,” Keating said.
“Why was he naked? We don’t know. I don’t know if he went in fully clothed or wearing swim trunks. It’s not uncommon for clothing to come off people who are rescued, especially if they are wearing swim trunks or shorts,’ Keating said.
Lake Sedgewick is not intended for recreational swimming, Keating said, but police do not intend to press any criminal charges against the man.
“Our main concern now is that he is alive and well,” said Keating, who declined to identify the man.
Contributing: Joseph P. Meier